#digiwrimo Digital Writing: What counts?

by Dr Davis on November 30, 2012

After reading Dr. Bessette’s post “Digital Writing Month Fail?”, I went back and counted words I had written.

I wrote 2,822 words on my classroom blog in November, in just five posts–one of which was an image quiz. That doesn’t count any additions I made to notes in the classroom Calendar (our schedule) and I did make some.

For the last 10 days of November my average on TCE = 6,607 words, which, x3 = 19,821.

Do emails count towards the digital writing month? I never was quite clear on what the parameters of “digital” writing were. I think they should.

So, I looked at my emails from Nov. 1-Nov. 30 (which isn’t over yet!) and I had 260 emails that I sent out. Then I picked two from the beginning of the month and two from the end of the month and averaged the number of words in them and then multiplied that times the number of emails. Based on that “guestimate” I wrote 46,280 words in emails alone in November.

Looking at my last 3 tweets, average number of words per tweet was 14. I did 78 tweets in November (not a large number, obviously). That gives me 1,092 words in tweets for a guestimate.

For a total of 70,015.

This does not include the work on my iPad textbook, which ought to count as digital writing. Some of it was simple copy and paste, but there are another 200 pages in that sucker since the beginning of the month.

And that doesn’t even count the accessibility descriptions, some of which I had to recreate four times due to some glitch where they did not get saved. (I don’t know what that glitch is and I really would like to. Then maybe I could stop it from continuing.)

I decided I should count those because I could figure out a way that wouldn’t be too hard. So I took the first and last image from the chapters and found out how many words were in each. I averaged those. Then I multiplied times the number of images in the book. That gives me a total of 33,091 words in the accessibility descriptions of the images alone.

All those descriptions were written since the beginning of the month when I began porting what I wrote in version 1 of iBooks Author to a new template. If there is an easy way to do that, I don’t know what it is and it took me 12 hours just to copy and move stuff over. That’s also when I found the accessibility descriptions and realized what they were for and started writing them.

The accessibility descriptions should definitely count as digital writing, shouldn’t they? Or is that just typing? And, if we are going to count putting things on the computer, I created three or four pages of instructions, four quizzes, and two reading guides in the last two weeks. I didn’t count those either.

It also doesn’t include the IRB request I had to file this month, text messages to family and friends (though I confess my students text way more than I do), and the pages of notes I took in Evernote and on Notebook in my phone and on my iPad. Okay, now I want to count those too.

iPad notes only = 3,789 words

A grand total (not counting text messages, notes in Evernote or on my phone, and the IRB request) of 106,895 words.

Wasting time…. Not on the writing, but on the counting of the words. And I still don’t know if that is a relatively accurate count for #digiwrimo.

Also, unlike Dr. Bessette, I did get a conference paper written this month. That’s not in this count because that is just typing.

I just decided I should look up a definition for digital writing and it looks like maybe I should include that, since it’s on a PowerPoint and I am going to give it… But then again, do I only count the words other people see? No. I put the paper on my iPad to read from for the conference….

So what definitions did I find?

Here’s the first one:

Digital writing is the art and practice of preparing documents primarily by computer and often for online delivery. from Technorhetoric.net

In the introduction to Why Digital Writing Matters, on page 6, I found these definitions from folks the author/s interviewed:

“Any writing that requires a computer to access it.” (JodiAnn Stevenson)
“Writing which, at minimum, would be diminished if it were presented in a non-digital format, and at best, which is effectively untranslatable out of the digital format.” (Dan Waber)
“Creative writing that uses digital tools/software as an integral part of its conception and delivery.” (Catherine Byron)
“Collaborative/participatory writing, hypertext writing, improvisatory ‘real time’ writing, new media writing (i.e. multimedia authorship), code poetry and programmatic writing, online role playing, journal writing/ blogging, international community building, E-learning, game playing . . .” (Tim Wright)

The author/s of the book finally settled on this definition:
“Because Digital Writing Matters, we define digital writing as compositions created with, and oftentimes for reading or viewing on, a computer or other device that is connected to the Internet (7).”

In that case, by my understanding of that definition, I have written WAY more than that. I have created 161 MSWord documents in the last month, most of which were sent as attachments or saved into PDFs to send with emails. (I did not count any attachments in my word count for the emails.) Some of those documents, however, were for the iPad textbook I am creating, but since everyone would be reading on the iPad, that makes those digital too. I am still not going to go back and count those. I’ve spent over an hour and a half on this math already.

What it boils down to is that AT A MINIMUM, I wrote 106,895 words for digital writing. And I might have written… many times that much.

I guess it all depends on how you define digital.

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